1. bookVolumen 72 (2022): Heft 3 (September 2022)
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Zukunft der Weidehaltung in Deutschland – Technologische Entwicklungen und Bezug zur Gesetzgebung

Online veröffentlicht: 23 Jun 2022
Volumen & Heft: Volumen 72 (2022) - Heft 3 (September 2022)
Seitenbereich: 95 - 104
Eingereicht: 19 Jul 2021
Akzeptiert: 28 Sep 2021
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License
Format
Zeitschrift
eISSN
2719-5430
Erstveröffentlichung
30 Mar 2016
Erscheinungsweise
4 Hefte pro Jahr
Sprachen
Englisch
Zusammenfassung

Die Anzahl der weidegehaltenen Nutztiere ist seit Jahren rückläufig in Europa. Für die Weidetierhaltung existieren derzeit eine Vielzahl an gesetzlichen Regelungen, die es zu beachten gilt, sowohl auf Bundes-, als auch EU Ebene. Auch gesellschaftliche Aspekte spielen hierbei eine große Rolle, wie das gesteigerte Interesse am Tierwohl, Umweltschutz oder der Erholungswert der Landschaft. Um den gesteigerten Anforderungen durch Recht, Gesellschaft und Tierwohl entgegenzukommen, sind Forschung und Entwicklung neuer Technologien unabdingbar. Das vorliegende Paper hat zum Ziel, einen Gesamtüberblick über drei verschiedene Aspekte der Weidetierhaltung in Deutschland zu geben: Gesetzgebung, Gesellschaft und natürliche Anforderungen. Ausgehend von diesen Aspekten, sollen technologische und managementbasierte Möglichkeiten aufgezeigt werden, um den künftigen Anforderungen an die Weidetierhaltungen gerecht zu werden und diese zu erleichtern. Hierbei werden sowohl bereits am Markt erhältliche als auch in Forschung befindliche Lösungen aufgezeigt. Es kann aufgezeigt werden, dass eine Vielzahl an Möglichkeiten existieren, um die Weidetierhaltung zu verbessern oder zur erleichtern. Häufig haben diese das Ziel, die Managementaufgaben zu optimieren. Es kann festgestellt werden, dass neue Technologien in der Weidehaltung die Produktivität erhöhen und gleichzeitig die aufwändigen Managementaufgaben verringern können. Jedoch wird sowohl der Preis dieser Lösungen als auch regulatorische Bestimmungen einen großen Einfluss darauf haben, ob diese künftig implementiert werden.

Schlagwörter

Introduction

Grasslands play an important role in various aspects of environmental protection. Covering one-quarter of Germany’s agricultural used land, grasslands not only provide space for numerous animal species, but are also relevant for climate aspects. Within 10% of agricultural land (most of which is grassland) in Germany, 35% of the total carbon stock of agricultural soils is stored (BfN, 2014). As grasslands show a perennial vegetation; it prevents desiccation and wind or water erosion (Umweltbundesamt, 2021), which is especially important in mountain regions to, for example, prevent landslides. Pastures are habitat for numerous animals, especially for endangered species (Sachteleben, 2000; Dierschke et al., 2002). In 2000, out of 34 animal groups, which belonged to the “red list” of endangered species, 22 groups needed open habitats like pastures (Sachteleben, 2000). When left unattended, grasslands become overgrown and forests may evolve. Even though pasturing can have vast positive impacts on the environment, in Europe, it has been decreasing for many years (Reijs et al., 2013; van den Pol-van Dasselaar et al., 2020). Where possible, grassland was converted to cropland, resulting in losses of CO2. In 2010, around 4.7 million out of 12.7 million cattle had access to pastures (StBA, 2011). Recently, however, there is a “renaissance” (LfL, 2020) of pasturing in Bavaria, Germany. Other countries, like the Netherlands, also report slight increases (van den Pol-van Dasselaar et al., 2020).

Pasturing is connected to considerable expenditure for farmers, which can be divided into three great topics: management, economic aspects, and social aspects. Schoof et al. (2019) categorize different expenses of pasturing. These range from pasture management, choice of adequate livestock and genetics, as well as the correct time of pasturing during the day. Further factors to take into consideration are stocking density, pasture division, care measures of the pasture, as well as veterinary control and additional feeding. Next to these management-related aspects, the above-mentioned economic and social aspects have an impact on dairy farmers in decision-making of whether or not to bring their livestock to pasture. Reijs et al. (2013) name different pros and cons of pasturing, which are listed below.

Aspects that have a negative impact on pasturing are:

– increasing costs for labor, capital, and technology;

– milk price, which is expected not to increase in the same way as the above-mentioned costs;

– positive developments in the livestock technology sector, like automated milking systems (AMS); and

– due to economic aspects, farms expand in size, leading to limited grazing areas around a farm and a need for more efficient management.

Aspects with positive impact are as follows:

– cost reduction due to reduction in necessary machinery equipment or hours and due to lower housing costs during grazing season;

– animal welfare can be strengthened as cows can express their natural behavior on a pasture; and

– the health of animals is expected to be better when pasturing is offered.

Reijs et al. (2013) concluded that the image of a farm and of a whole product can be increased when grazing is offered. Grazing can have high potential for economic aspects as well as animal health. But what influences pasturing in Germany and which technological tools exist to help farmers? This research identifies the influencing factors that change pasturing in the future and offers insights into how new technologies can be used to help farmers cope with these changes.

Materials and Methods

This paper is based on a literature review. In this review, chosen innovative methods have been listed in a tabular form. Within this publication, legal frameworks that influence pasturing are summarized. More detailed information will be given on innovative tools and technologies.

Results
Legal and social aspects of pasturing

Despite the above-mentioned facts, governmental regulations need to be considered as well when farmers decide to do pasturing.

Figure 1 shows the legal and social requirements of pasturing based on a literature review. Natural requirements as a further factor will be described in plain text, following the graphs.

Legal (numbers) and social (letters) requirements of pasturing (Kröck 2020, modified)

Abbildung 1. Rechtliche (Nummern) und gesellschaftliche (Buchstaben) Anforderungen and die Weidetierhaltung (nach Kröck, 2020)

About 13 different general categories can be classified when screening the legal aspects of pasturing. These 13 categories can then be divided into 42 different factors. Within this publication, only the most crucial aspects will be considered. One of the most important things within these regulations is that a farmer must provide documentation in case of any accident. Farmers (1) must insure their farm for any upcoming liability issues. Next to this, due to the “animal welfare ordinance” of Germany (BMEL, 2006), a farmer is forced to inspect animals and their supplies (like water (5) or fodder (6)) once a day. Additionally, the farmer has to have competences in notifiable animal diseases and in animal husbandry. Another crucial aspect is shown with (2). Especially in the Alps, close encounters between hikers and animals happen, as hikers must walk through pastures. In Germany, there is a right of free movement in nature for everyone, so people can get very close to the animals, which leads to fatalities in extreme cases. A farmer has to ensure that grazing area is of adequate size and the cattle will not be unsettled due to bad management. Also, fences have to be adequate for the fenced animals and need to be state of the art. Depending on the kind of animal that has to be fenced, different requirements are given by Priebe et al. (2016). Furthermore, a farmer must ensure that the fence is always working properly. In case of an incident, he has to prove that he took care of these points, for example, with a “pasture diary” (Priebe et al., 2016). Especially when cattle are held on pastures, (3) becomes an important point. Every bovine has to be registered in the national stock register and marked at the latest 7 days after birth with an ear tag (BMEL, 2010). In (4) are found the aspects of animal health. Regarding aspects like epidemic protection and animal health, different regulations like the “Animal Welfare Act” (Deutscher Bundestag und Bundesrat, 2006), the “animal welfare ordinance,” and others exist in Germany. These laws and regulations state, for example, that animals may not be required to perform services that exceed their health status. Also, sudden and continuous noise near the animals must be avoided, and the daily control of animals, as well as their medical treatments must be documented. Direct medical records must be kept for this purpose. Another important aspect which may not be neglected is that farmers must ensure protection for animals form adverse weather conditions (BMEL, 2006). When a shelter has to be built, special laws regarding size have to be considered (Deutscher Bundestag und Bundesrat, 2017). In (8), not only the conversion of grassland into arable land, which must follow strict regulations is described, but also any regulation regarding good agricultural practices. While (9) stands for any regulation regarding fertilization of grasslands (e.g., observe waiting time after fertilizer application), (10) stands for weed management. When pesticides are applicated, farmers must have competence certificates and specific waiting times have to be observed (Deutscher Bundestag und Bundesrat, 2012; European Parliament, 2005). With (11), another important point is shown: safety rules have to be followed while driving cows across a road, so that there is no danger for other road users. When animals are transported, it has to be ensured that the animal is healthy and stable for transport (BMEL, 2009). Grazing of forests is temporarily allowed. Since the return of the wolf (Canis lupus lupus) (13) to the middle of Europe, losses of grazing livestock have increased. In 2019, in Germany, more than 2800 farm animals were harmed by wolves (DBBW, 2019). In 2018, this count was around 2000 farm animals (DBBW, 2019). Up to now, the wolf in Germany is protected and a lethal withdrawal is only allowed in individual cases (Deutscher Bundestag und Bundesrat, 2010).

Figure 1 summarizes the socioeconomic and environmental aspects as well, shown in capital letters. Animal welfare and environmental protection are very crucial points for society (Zühlsdorf et al., 2016; Gellrich, 2021). This is shown in (A) with rejection of genetically modified plants, (C) protecting grassland as a CO2 sink, and (D) + (E) with reduced fertilizer and phytosanitary products, regarding environment. Furthermore, species- and structure-rich grassland habitats bring benefits for the environmental value (F). The protection of wildlife (G) can be achieved through regulations of the mowing time, for example. Regarding animal welfare, late separation of cows and calves is demanded (B). Consumers expect high quality, high standards of animal welfare, or environmental protection as a given when buying agricultural products (Gassler et al., 2018). This is why a large proportion of consumers want pasturing, but still prefer a low price at the supermarket (Weinrich et al., 2014). For a higher willingness to pay, transparent and trustworthy standards for the production process are needed, which, for example, can be achieved due to clearly defined labels (H) (Gassler et al., 2018). Farmers have a large influence on balanced landscape structures and the associated recreational value for the population (I) (Spittler, 2001). Furthermore, they have to take care that hikers or other people in the landscape are protected against agricultural hazards (J).

Technological aspects

Today, several technological tools exist to assist farmers by pasturing. Some of these tools can help farmers to fulfill, especially legal requirements; some do also have benefits on environmental aspects. The following section shall show some technological achievements as well as scientific research in the area of pasturing. According to Gabriel (2020), an estimated 68% of German farmers are already using smart farming technologies like automated feeding systems, GPS-guidance, or farm management information systems. In Germany, only few “smart” pasturing systems have been established, while Ireland, for example, is pioneering this sector. Nevertheless, research is done in this area in Germany as Table 1 shows. Some selected studies will be described further.

Scientific projects in grassland and pasturing in Germany (according to Kröck, 2020)

Tabelle 1. Wissenschaftliche Projekte mit Fokus auf Grünland und Weidehaltung in Deutschland (nach Kröck, 2020)

ProjectCoordinationGoal
Green GrassGAUUsing new technologies to develop innovative pasturing systems
Super-GProductive and ecologically sustainable grassland management systems
ADAMEnlarge biodiversity in intensive grasslands of northern Germany
IMPACNew genotypes for sustainable grasslands
Smart GrazingCAUApp for growth rate and quality of pasture forage
SusCattEnlarge productivity, efficiency, and consumer acceptance of pasture-based feeding
LegacyNetOptimizing grassland compositions
Low-Input WeidemilchClimate protection potentials of pasture-based dairy farming
Gemeine RispeWebtool as decision support for the control of the common panicle
Weidemanager Schleswig-HolsteinCAU, LWK SHAdaption of GrassHopper and PastureBaseIreland in northern Germany
Innovatives Bio-WeiderinderkonzeptUniversity of HohenheimGrassland protection
PastorAlpUniversity of Florence (coordinator)Adaption to climate change on alpine pastures
EmiDatKTBLData basis for outdoor climate management and climate protection
NaTiMonThünen-InstituteNational definition of animal welfare in livestock systems
SattGrünZALFWeb-based decision support for enhancing productivity and ecosystem services of grasslands
DigiMilchBavarian Sate Research Center for AgricultureReal-time data of fertilizer ingredients for application
RindertrackingCattle tracking and monitoring system
SELBEXNuertingen Geislingen UniversitySelective non-chemical treatment of Jacob’s ragwort and autumn crocus in extensive grasslands
Optikuh 2Federal Office for Agriculture and Food GermanyEstimation of disease risk of individual animals for selection for robustness and feed conversion efficiency
mAInZaunJLU, Universität Bremen, RoFlexsSensor-based artificial intelligence controlled fencing system for wolf protection

Adapted from Kröck (2020): CAU, Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel; GAU, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen; JLU, Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen; LWK SH, Schleswig Holstein Chamber of Agriculture; KTBL, Kuratorium für Technik und Bauwesen in der Landwirtschaft; ZALF, Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research

Several different projects try to gain data of pasturing to make them available to farmers, like the “Schleswig Holstein Chamber of Agriculture (LWK),” which are currently working on an adaption of grassland management systems to German conditions (EIP, 2018). For this, a rising plate meter “Grasshopper” (described below) and a decision support system from Ireland, called “PastureBaseIreland,” are adapted to German conditions (EIP, 2018). The project is meant to end in 2021. Also, the “Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel” was working on a project called “Optimized Pasturemanagement – smart grazing,” in which the performance potential of pasture within northern Germany should be assessed (CAU, 2017). Services, like a “grassland information ticker” for farmers in Luxemburg may give updates about pasture management via a newsletter (Klöcker et al., 2018; WWW-Gréngland, 2020). For calculating the required space for grazing cows, the “Riswicker Weideplaner” as Excel sheet can be used. The last mentioned tool is based on historical grassland data for prediction. Schwieder et al. (2020) evaluated Sentinel-2 satellite data to estimate the biomass of grassland. Within the project “SattGrün” by several different institutions, this knowhow was used to evaluate the added value for farmers. As a result, a monitoring and warning system for cock chafer grubs, which can cause massive losses on grassland, was also evaluated (Angermair and Pauli, 2021). The project “Green Grass” has been started by several scientific and agricultural organizations to evaluate different technologies to bring pasturing into the future. With remote sensing via satellite, the amount and quality of grasslands shall be recorded and predicted. Within a new management tool, mainly this information can be used to bring the animals purposefully to specific parts of a pasture. The coordinators also hope to be able to distribute nutrients better across the pasture (GLZ, n. y.).

Next to these scientific approaches, however, there are innovative solutions on the market already that help to reduce the costs and risks of pasturing. Table 2 shows selected technologies and management tools, which will be described further. One of the most crucial points of pasturing is to have precise information about growth and quality of grassland (Isselstein and Horn, 2019) to know how many and which kind of livestock can be fed on it. Of late, a trend to focus on this aspect can be seen in scientific practice. Therefore, different handheld equipment are available, like the “Grass Master Pro” by Novel Ways or the “GrassHopper” rising plate meter by True North Technologies. The Grass Master Pro measures the dry matter content in kg/ha via capacitance method. Data can be transferred, for example, into an own software or a Microsoft Excel sheet. The GrassHopper does this by a plate, laying on the grass. With the height of the plate in relation to the ground, density and gras height are measured, stored, and can be transferred via Bluetooth to a mobile phone app. Within this app, georeferenced information is stored, so that future measurements can automatically be related to a specific pasture. The so-gained information can also be used in a grassland management software like “AgriNet.” Within this software, for example, paddock rotation and reseedings of paddocks can be planned. With this data, predictions can also be made whether the yield will be sufficient or not (O'Donovan and McEvoy, 2019).

Selected technologies and management tools to improve future pasturing (according to Kröck, 2020)

Tabelle 2. Ausgewählte Technologien und Managementtools, um Weidehaltung künftig zu optimieren (nach Kröck, 2020)

TechnologiesProduct/functionCompanySpecial function
Growth measurementGrass Master ProNovel Ways
GrassHopperTrue North Technology
FencingVirtual FencingVence
Agersens
Nofence
GrazewayLelyBarn–pasture–traffic with automated doors
Animal wealth managementSmaXtecSmaXtecDetection of estrus, diseases, locomotion, feeding issues, and so on
CowManagerCowManager
RumiWatchITIN + Hoch
Potions managementBlue LevelLa BuvetteAutomated water level measuring for pasture tanks
Tracking systemGPS basedBlaupunkt TelematicsAnimal position, walking routes, georeferencing
Tecsag
Environmental protectionZelpZELP LtdOxidate methane from cows’ exhalation and tracking health data
LactobeefAgroscopeFeeding cattle with whey from cheese manufacturing reduces methane emission
Weed controlBlackenvernichtungsanlageBachmannWeed control system with boiling water (nonchemical).
Potions controlBlue LevelLa BuvetteWater level sensor
Management / AppsProduct/FunctionCompanySpecial Function
Fertilizer management“Wann wächst das Gras?” (When does the grass grow?)LWK Schleswig HolsteinOptimization of spring fertilization, vegetation period forecast
Yara PlanYaraCalculation and documentation of fertilizer need and application
Pasture managementPastureBaseIrelandTeagascComprehensive planning and documentation of pasture management at desktop computer (Decision support systems)
Kingswood ComputingKingswood Computing
AgriNetAgriNet
Riswicker WeideplanerChamber of Agriculture North Rhine-WestphaliaOptimization of stocking density
GrünlandtickerWWW-Newsletter, growth data, recommendations for pasture management
Grass10Gréngland Teagasc
FencinghimpsHorizontFence control (voltage, and so on)

Adapted from Kröck (2020)

Even though the yield of grassland may be the most important factor for feeding the cows, the above-mentioned legal and social aspects as well as management aspects are also taken into consideration when it comes to new technological ideas. Fencing is of utmost importance to protect the outer environment as well as the animals inside a pasture. As already mentioned, the functionality of a fence must always be guaranteed. To prevent trouble, the fence has to be checked daily.

As sometimes the farmers are not able to control all fences daily, first digital assistants are available for this purpose. Electric fences can be monitored and if the current drops or the energizer shows complications, an alarm can be sent via GSM Band (LUDA FARM, n. y.). Within the Green Grass project, virtual fences shall also be tested and made ready for legal use in Germany. While other regions, like Norway, Australia, or the USA, already legalized and commercialized this kind of fencing (VENCE, 2018; Agersens, 2019; CSIRO, n. y.; Nofence, 2020) in Germany, no commercialization is given yet. With a virtual fence, the management of single paddocks would be simplified very much (GLZ, n. y.). In combination with an animal identification system, single animals could be guided to different spots of a pasture, according to their current requirements for feed. Also, natural aspects like small biotopes within a pasture or habitats can be fenced easily with this technology (GLZ, n. y.). These partly automated systems could also be used for controlling and documentation against any insurance cases. In combination with other technologies, like the cow selection box “Grazeway” by Lely, the gap between stable and pasture can be closed. With an integrated cow registration, the operator always knows if a cow is in the stable or on pasture.

As already mentioned, animal welfare is crucial while pasturing. Enough fodder as well as water must be accessible for livestock at all times. Water is often supplied in mobile water barrels. As these barrels are mostly within the pasture, it is cumbersome to control the water level inside. For this, sensors like the “Blue Level” by “La Buvette” can be used. With ultrasonic sensors, the water level can be transmitted via LoRa Wan or Sigfox and within a mobile phone app, average consumption and days to refill can be shown and forecasted (La Buvette, 2020). Despite this, several manufacturers who use sensors for animal controlling can be found. These sensors gain data for estrus control, diseases, or rumen problems. Companies offering sensors for these purposes are CowManager, Ceres Tag, HerdDogg, MooMonitor+, Digitanimal, RumiWatch, Cowlar, and smaXtec. Also, animal trackers for pastures are available. For example, Blaupunkt Telematics offers a GPS-based tracking system with an alert function. If a tracked animal comes to critical zones like streets or railways, the farmer receives an alert (Blaupunkt Telematics, n. y.). In cooperation with the Bavarian Sate Research Center for Agriculture, this company is currently working on a monitoring system for dairy cattle on pastures. When deciding to bring cows to grasslands, the pressure of parasites will also increase. To help farmers understand which kind of parasites can evolve and how to protect the herd as good as possible, the Thünen-Institute brought out a small online tool. Within this tool, farmers can walk through a decision tree to estimate the hazard potential of parasites.

Discussion

Pastureland serves a variety of functions and should be preserved for this reason. It is not only a sink of CO2, but also an extensive pasturing can have a positive influence on animal species and botanical variety (Erhardt and Korner, 1997). But nevertheless, regulations are not going to decrease in future and climate change is going to evolve further. This will force farmers to adapt to theses changing situations when they want to send their livestock to pastures.

Till date, only a few innovative technologies for pasturing are known or used in Germany. Many technologies are adopted from countries which are well known for pasturing, like New Zealand, Ireland, the USA, and Switzerland (Kröck, 2020). As Kröck (2020) stated, in Europe, especially research institutions like the Irish VistaMilk SFI Research Centre are the leading institutions in this topic. Meanwhile, scientific and practical communication between countries is targeted through different projects. Within these projects, like the European Union (EU)-funded Beef Innovation Network Europe (BovINE), or Inno4Grass, especially skillsets of farmers are meant to level up. This is meant to be achieved by “bridging the gap between the practice and science communities” (Gruenlandzentrum Niedersachsen/Bremen e.V., 2017). As Table 1 shows, many different research projects were launched during the past years to enhance pasturing and pasturing skillsets of German farming. This trend can be seen as a big enhancement for the future and an important way to adapt new technologies for pasturing. van den Pol-van Dasselaar et al. (2020) see a lack of knowledge of such applications by the farmers. Furthermore, unawareness of the usage of such technologies as well as the practical use of gained data are big problems that could be faced by these projects.

In this paper, only potential innovative use cases and scientific research are shown. Costs and benefits are not evaluated and must be taken into further consideration.

Limits of some of the named innovations can be listed. Umstätter and Adrion (2020), for example, stated that animal tracking systems at the moment have weaknesses regarding energy consumption, accuracy, and stability.

Considering herds threatened by wolves as an example, the number of animals killed by wolves will increase in Germany. Even though wolf-proof fences can be built, this leads to higher costs and higher amounts of management tasks. The decision for pasturing will increase the management tasks in many ways compared to in-barn production, and this can keep farmers from pasturing in the first place. Due to societal pressure also, more regulations regarding animal welfare can be expected. As one example, the need to inspect all cows and all fences daily can be mentioned. Although with some innovations, evidence can be given that, for example, the water supply is still given or the fence is still working, especially the health of herd and the amount of biomass must be checked personally at this point as technology has to find its way from science into practical usage.

To deal with rising production costs and low milk prices, farmers have to adapt. Pasturing can be seen as one big point to do so (Reijs et al., 2013). As cows come to pastures, the costs of feeding decrease, while management tasks increase. Furthermore, from a societal point of view, customers relate access to outlet with higher animal welfare (Deimel et al., 2012). As a result, “pasture milk” has become more popular in Germany during the last years, even though it still is handled as a niche product (Kühl et al., 2017). Even though pasturing can possibly have economic benefits for the farmer, it can also lead to higher costs when management tasks get out of hand, or for dairy companies because they must ensure that pasture milk will not be mixed with other milk during processing. So, eventually, higher prices for pasture milk have to be afforded. This can lead to a lower acceptance of customers (Weinrich et al., 2014).

At present, it is doubtful whether new technologies and methods will be able to increase the number of animals on pasture. As an example, van den Pol-van Dasselaar et al. (2020) stated that in Ireland, the numbers of grazing animals is decreasing, even though those farmers already use a lot of technologies on their farms. Therefore, it can be seen that other actions, like governmental regulations, also have a big impact on the actual development.

Not only innovative or smart technologies have to be taken into consideration in future when thinking about pasturing, but also breeding for climate change-adapted animals can help farmers in future. The initial attempts to accomplish this for cattle were taken, for example, by König et al. (2019). Nonetheless, grasslands in Germany play an important role for a diverse ecosystem. Especially, extensive pasturing can help to improve habitats (Erhardt and Korner 1997) and can be, therefore, seen as an important tool for environmental protection. As plants on grasslands are normally not usable as food, ruminants are able to transform these nonedible plants into protein, which can be used as food for humans (Peyraud 2017). By allowing ruminants to eat this biomass, about one-quarter of the German farmland becomes available for sustainable food production. For these reasons, grazing should definitely be encouraged more again and technologies to support farmers should be examined.

Conclusion

European regulation for pasturing is very complicated in particular. It is not possible to compare all pieces of regulation of a single state to other states. Moreover, it can be shown that a lot of different aspects and rights have to be taken into consideration when the decision is made to pasture or not. For the future of pasturing, many technological tools can help farmers to be more productive and reduce or automate management tasks. Automation of mentioned management tasks will be the most important point. Tools to improve pasturing are already on market or in research, such as decision support systems (forecasts, stocking densities, pasture management improvement). Also, some technologies like virtual fences or tracking systems are already available, but legal aspects have to be clarified to make them usable in Germany. Whether these implementations will come into practice will also be a matter of pricing. As the prices for the products are high at the moment and not enough information is transferred to the farmers, they are not facing a wide adoption around Europe. Nevertheless, pasturing is an important tool of environmental protection in Europe. Its environmental service, for example, as a sink of CO2 and as livelihood for uncountable species must be focused in future discussions about animal husbandry and its value to the society. In order to preserve pasturing, answers for rising problems (e.g., return of the wolf) must be found, for example, with technological or political solutions.

Figure 1

Legal (numbers) and social (letters) requirements of pasturing (Kröck 2020, modified)Abbildung 1. Rechtliche (Nummern) und gesellschaftliche (Buchstaben) Anforderungen and die Weidetierhaltung (nach Kröck, 2020)
Legal (numbers) and social (letters) requirements of pasturing (Kröck 2020, modified)Abbildung 1. Rechtliche (Nummern) und gesellschaftliche (Buchstaben) Anforderungen and die Weidetierhaltung (nach Kröck, 2020)

Figure 1

Legal (numbers) and social (letters) requirements of pasturing (Kröck 2020, modified)Abbildung 1. Rechtliche (Nummern) und gesellschaftliche (Buchstaben) Anforderungen and die Weidetierhaltung (nach Kröck, 2020)
Legal (numbers) and social (letters) requirements of pasturing (Kröck 2020, modified)Abbildung 1. Rechtliche (Nummern) und gesellschaftliche (Buchstaben) Anforderungen and die Weidetierhaltung (nach Kröck, 2020)

Figure 1

Legal (numbers) and social (letters) requirements of pasturing (Kröck 2020, modified)Abbildung 1. Rechtliche (Nummern) und gesellschaftliche (Buchstaben) Anforderungen and die Weidetierhaltung (nach Kröck, 2020)
Legal (numbers) and social (letters) requirements of pasturing (Kröck 2020, modified)Abbildung 1. Rechtliche (Nummern) und gesellschaftliche (Buchstaben) Anforderungen and die Weidetierhaltung (nach Kröck, 2020)

Selected technologies and management tools to improve future pasturing (according to Kröck, 2020)Tabelle 2. Ausgewählte Technologien und Managementtools, um Weidehaltung künftig zu optimieren (nach Kröck, 2020)

TechnologiesProduct/functionCompanySpecial function
Growth measurementGrass Master ProNovel Ways
GrassHopperTrue North Technology
FencingVirtual FencingVence
Agersens
Nofence
GrazewayLelyBarn–pasture–traffic with automated doors
Animal wealth managementSmaXtecSmaXtecDetection of estrus, diseases, locomotion, feeding issues, and so on
CowManagerCowManager
RumiWatchITIN + Hoch
Potions managementBlue LevelLa BuvetteAutomated water level measuring for pasture tanks
Tracking systemGPS basedBlaupunkt TelematicsAnimal position, walking routes, georeferencing
Tecsag
Environmental protectionZelpZELP LtdOxidate methane from cows’ exhalation and tracking health data
LactobeefAgroscopeFeeding cattle with whey from cheese manufacturing reduces methane emission
Weed controlBlackenvernichtungsanlageBachmannWeed control system with boiling water (nonchemical).
Potions controlBlue LevelLa BuvetteWater level sensor

Scientific projects in grassland and pasturing in Germany (according to Kröck, 2020)Tabelle 1. Wissenschaftliche Projekte mit Fokus auf Grünland und Weidehaltung in Deutschland (nach Kröck, 2020)

ProjectCoordinationGoal
Green GrassGAUUsing new technologies to develop innovative pasturing systems
Super-GProductive and ecologically sustainable grassland management systems
ADAMEnlarge biodiversity in intensive grasslands of northern Germany
IMPACNew genotypes for sustainable grasslands
Smart GrazingCAUApp for growth rate and quality of pasture forage
SusCattEnlarge productivity, efficiency, and consumer acceptance of pasture-based feeding
LegacyNetOptimizing grassland compositions
Low-Input WeidemilchClimate protection potentials of pasture-based dairy farming
Gemeine RispeWebtool as decision support for the control of the common panicle
Weidemanager Schleswig-HolsteinCAU, LWK SHAdaption of GrassHopper and PastureBaseIreland in northern Germany
Innovatives Bio-WeiderinderkonzeptUniversity of HohenheimGrassland protection
PastorAlpUniversity of Florence (coordinator)Adaption to climate change on alpine pastures
EmiDatKTBLData basis for outdoor climate management and climate protection
NaTiMonThünen-InstituteNational definition of animal welfare in livestock systems
SattGrünZALFWeb-based decision support for enhancing productivity and ecosystem services of grasslands
DigiMilchBavarian Sate Research Center for AgricultureReal-time data of fertilizer ingredients for application
RindertrackingCattle tracking and monitoring system
SELBEXNuertingen Geislingen UniversitySelective non-chemical treatment of Jacob’s ragwort and autumn crocus in extensive grasslands
Optikuh 2Federal Office for Agriculture and Food GermanyEstimation of disease risk of individual animals for selection for robustness and feed conversion efficiency
mAInZaunJLU, Universität Bremen, RoFlexsSensor-based artificial intelligence controlled fencing system for wolf protection

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